Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Secure Two Race Wins and Four Total Podiums at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Team Sweeps Intercontinental GT Challenge 8 Hour and GT World Challenge America Pro-Am Victories in Indianapolis
– INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana
The No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, and co-drivers George Kurtz, Colin Braun and Ben Keating, swept the Pro-Am class wins in the SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli Indianapolis 8 Hour, and the season- ending race of the SRO GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Sunday. The victories anchored a total of four podium showings over the weekend for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams competing in the first ever SRO Motorsports Group weekend of competition at IMS.
A race within a race, Sunday's inaugural Indianapolis 8 Hour was the second round of the worldwide Intercontinental GT Challenge while the race's first three hours also served as the season finale for GT World Challenge America.
As the No. 04's full-season GT World Challenge America co-drivers, only Kurtz and Braun were eligible to compete in the race's opening three-hour segment. After the team used Saturday's qualifying session as an additional practice run, Kurtz rolled off from 12th overall on the grid and took the green flag with his fellow competitors at 10 a.m. EDT Saturday for the start of both races.
Rain that lingered through the race's opening hour began to fall heavily on the first lap of the race, but the No. 04 team and the two other Mercedes- AMG GT3 entries were quick to take advantage of the showers.
The No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Kenny Habul, Mikael Grenier and Martin Konrad made the strategy call to pit for wet weather racing tires on the race's pace lap. The quick gamble paid off as Konrad, after returning to the track to take the green flag in last place, sliced through the field and into the overall lead in the opening 30 minutes.
The No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 team also made the most of the wet start. Debuting Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver Richard Heistand, who joined full-season co-drivers David Askew and Ryan Dalziel at Indy, took the start on dry-weather slick tires but still managed to work his way up to third overall on the wet track.
Kurtz was also on pace in the wet conditions, only to have race officials rule the No. 04 was driven into a closed pitlane under green-flag conditions. After serving the drive-through penalty, Kurtz continued his charge to the front of the Pro-Am field and handed the No. 04 off to Braun in the race's second hour.
Braun took the lead and was up front at the three-hour mark to join Kurtz in securing the team's third Pro-Am victory of the season.
With the World Challenge season in the books and the morning rain over, all three Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams focused on the race's final five hours on a dry 2.5-mile track.
Kurtz, Braun and Keating moved into the top five overall in the race's final hours and appeared set for a battle for the Pro-Am win with teammates Askew, Dalziel and Heistand in the No. 63 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Dalziel was closing on the No. 04 halfway through the race's sixth hour when a mechanical issue threw the left rear wheel off and sent the No. 63 into a gravel trap. Although the car was removed and transported back to the garage area, the DXDT team elected to retire the No. 63, which was more than 10 laps down at that point.
From there, Kurtz, Keating and closing-driver Braun pulled their final driving shifts in the No. 04, comfortably crossing the finish line fifth overall, ahead of two Pro-class cars and three laps clear of the Pro-Am runner-up.
The No. 63's retirement opened the door for the SunEnergy1 Mercedes- AMG GT3 team to challenge for second in the race's final hour. After moving up to third, closing driver Grenier lapped faster than the second- place car but ultimately needed a late caution that never came to close the gap. The No. 75 took the checkered flag less than a lap behind the second- place finishers, third in Pro-Am and ninth overall.
The Indy weekend also featured the season-ending Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Series doubleheader on Thursday and Friday. Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams competing included Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 RecStuff Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 and first-year Pirelli GT4 driver Chris Gumprecht in his No. 79 CG Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
After being knocked from contention early in Thursday's first race, Courtney rebounded for a Mercedes-AMG GT4 weekend-best finish of third place in the Am class in Friday's finale.
George Kurtz, Driver – No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
"It's a great end to the season. We did whatever we could to win, and that was our goal: come here to win the three hours, which we did, and win the eight hours. It was phenomenal running with Ben and Colin. I couldn't ask for better co-drivers. We had a great season. It all came together this year. We put the hard work in, and the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was great with the Evo package. It just suited our style. I can't wait for next year."
Colin Braun, Driver – No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
"For us, our goal was to win the three hours and then win the eight hours. We were able to accomplish both of those, which was awesome. That was the main focus. For us, it was great weekend obviously. Practice and qualifying were a little bit of a setup for us and we just kind of treated qualifying as a wave-off. We just focused on our car on full tanks, pit-ins, pit-outs and all those kinds of things where you make up the little time. It wasn't necessarily exciting but it all paid off and in the race. Driving with Ben and George, those guys are two of the best Bronze drivers in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 car. I couldn't really ask much more from those guys. They did an awesome job, and the team did a great job on all the stops. We kept our nose clean, were smart and kept at it all day."
Ben Keating, Driver – No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
"This has been an awesome event. It's my first Intercontinental GT Challenge event, and it's been a blast. I've really enjoyed running with George and Colin. We get along great, and it's a great team. I've enjoyed DXDT and I'm familiar with the Mercedes-AMG GT3. It wasn't an easy weekend for us because we had been struggling, but we spent the whole practice time trying to set the car up for the race. Full fuel and doing lots of different things instead of going for a fast lap time, and I think that paid off in the race. I'm really happy with how it all happened. I'm so excited for George and Colin."
Mikael Grenier, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
"It was a really good race from the team. Especially the crew, there were no mistakes on the pit stop. Everything went well. We had a really good strategy to start the race, so we got the overall lead, but after that, we had a bad strategy and went on the wrong tire and had to do two extra stops. So, we lost a lot of time, but in the end, the pace was good, and we came back in third place. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was really good again, and this was my first time in the new car this year. The aero is better. The front of the car is better with the aero and it was a good improvement on the ABS. It's very reliable. It's the best car in GT3 competition."
David Askew, Driver – No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
"We came here to win with two really well-prepared Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars and two fully prepared teams. I got into racing to do endurance racing, and that's why I spend so much time focusing on this type of race because, ultimately, it's the type of racing that I want to do. For myself, from my own performance, I drove in the rain, I drove between rain and dry, I drove on the rains, I drove on slicks. I learned a lot. I did my first double stint ever in the car and handled that OK. So, for me personally, it's a win because I ticked off a lot of boxes for my own personal advancement. As an Am, I've got to hold my own with the other Am drivers. I'm pretty happy with how I did at Indy with that requirement."
Richard Heistand, Driver – No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
"Number one, I enjoyed it, and appreciate David and Ryan giving me the opportunity to come out and drive with them. It's a win for me to come out and get experience in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Indianapolis. In the wet we were strong. We weren't so strong in the beginning on the rain tires, I think we needed to increase the tire pressures, which we did at the stop. Later in the race we passed cars that were ahead of us in pace and in a pretty good position. David did a great job, and I think we were looking pretty comfy for P1 in Pro-Am and P5 overall, but unfortunately, we just had a failure and had to retire the car. That happens in endurance racing, but I enjoyed it and hope to have more experiences in the Mercedes-AMG GT3. It's a really good car in the rain, that's for sure."
Jeff Courtney, Driver – No. 99 RecStuff Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4:
"I came in thinking it was just another track, but it was cool to be at Indy for sure. The car is really good in the twisty stuff, but in the current series rules we don't have the pace we could have on the straights. The Mercedes-AMG GT4 has the speed, we see it in other series, so we just tried to trim out the aero for some speed."